Get Your Patio Autumn-Ready

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As the nights get crisp, Tara Losinski shares her tips on how to prolong your alfresco meals.

I’m by no means a meteorologist, but this is what I can make of Environment Canada’s forecast models for September and October. It’s warmer than normal temperatures for the coasts (east and all the way to the northeast of Saskatchewan and much of B.C. on the west and even a swath of the northeast N.W.T. and an eastern sliver of Nunavut). For the rest of us, it looks like thermometers will be reaching normal levels. And what of the wet stuff? There’s red (above normal in technical terms) for a lot of Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Yukon with Alberta, N.W.T. and Nunavut coloured as well. And with the surprising exception of below normal precipitation for large portions of Newfoundland and Labrador, the rest of the country will be, presumably, seasonally status quo.Ulya Jensen, interior designer and RONA Home & Garden expert has tips to extend your backyard and patio living, whether you’re above, below or just right this fall.

1) Have lots of throws available. Polyester faux fur or wool blankets are great to have on hand, and they won’t get destroyed if they get wet. I would suggest getting a blanket box to store them in. There are lots of storage options that are breathable, which will allow you to store blankets and cushions outside so they are easily accessible. Breathable may seem counterintuitive, but Jensen says, “Dampness is what gets us in the fall. An airtight container stored outside will still get damp when the temperature fluctuates but if you have something breathable you won’t ever get mold. Think of the rain jackets that don’t let water in but have small enough ‘pores’ to let the heat and steam escape. It is the same principal.”

Paradise Outdoor Lantern, $29.99,


2) It gets darker earlier, so set up some battery operated lanterns, solar lanterns or LED candles. You can now get LED candles that come with a timer so they come on at the same time everyday and you can adjust them as the days get shorter. Tabletop fire features also add light as well as warmth to your backyard – the two main things we lose as summer fades away. If you want to undertake a larger renovation project, plan for illuminating the backyard space with lights that are built in to a pillar or up on the fence that can easily be turned on with the flick of a switch.


‘Solitude Sun-Shelter’, $999,

3) Take a big grassy area that will get damp and cold quickly,and install some interlock or patio stones to create a little space for your chairs so they won’t sink into the ground. Then, if you add a gazebo over top, it’s a great way to stay outside and keep warm. You can even zip some of them up like a really nice backyard tent! You can also get heat lamps that hang inside your gazebo to keep you nice and warm. If you wanted to do something a little less expensive, purchase treated wood flooring that can be placed over cement. They just snap together and will keep your feet and everything up warmer.

Fire Pit. $239,

4) Install an outdoor fireplace (freestanding and mountable options exist). Outdoor rooms outfitted like indoor spaces (think outdoor kitchens) are becoming very popular and turn that outside area into a second living room that can be used for much longer through the year.

5) Ensure you have comfortable furniture with soft cushions – a cosy space is one that you’ll want to stay outside in longer. You could also swap out your existing cushions (and accessory) colours for more fall tones such as brick reds and burnt oranges.

6) Make sure wooden or metal patio furniture has been well sealed and varnished so as to handle the cooler weather and even dipping into a frost.